Goodbye, from under the Willow Tree

From the desk of Amy…

It’s a beautiful day in June, a little breezy, but the sun is shining and I can hear the leaves rustling in the trees. Brent walks Gus out of the barn and down the gravel driveway. Gus walks a few feet before his back leg gives out and it just happens to be under a willow tree.

gus greengrass

We don’t notice the willow tree, but our vet Dr. Sherry does, “this is a lovely spot under a willow tree”. Elsa is eating weeds beside us and Dr. Sherry says “I don’t think you should be eating those weeds Elsa – it might be poisonous”. On command Elsa spits out the weed and gives Dr. Sherry an annoyed look that only teenagers can make. We laugh too loud.

People ask me why it’s so difficult to euthanize an animal and all the reasons get stuck in my throat and I can’t find the answer.

“Do you have a mat or something for Gus to lay on?” asks Dr. Sherry.

I am amazed that I didn’t think of it and I run to the barn and grab Gus’s beautiful memory foam bed. This is a special bed donated by Gus’s red headed girlfriend years ago. Molly is a very attractive golden retriever who fell in love with Gus. The bed brought great comfort to Gus right up until his final breath. Thank you Monika & Molly.


I give thanks for kind people as I put the bed on the ground under the willow tree. Gus immediately lays on his bed and takes a deep breath as the breeze ruffles his ears. His muscles relax as the sedative takes effect. He’s suddenly tired and rests his head heavily on the bed.

Euthanizing an animal is difficult because they are a part of our everyday life. They rely on us for shelter, food, care, medicine and love. We are their world and they are mine.

I watch his chest rise and fall for the last time. I stroke his head and tell him that we love him, there are many people who love him and will miss him. I tell him Uncle Bill and Megan send their love. Gus has no idea how many lives he’s touched. Gus has no idea that our tears will pave his way to heaven.

gus last day

When a person dies there is a team of people to help with the process. The funeral director, the mortician, nurses, doctors and grave diggers. Family and friends visit, bring food, bring love, bring support, flowers and kindness.

My tears soak his white fur as his muscles relax and I look at Dr. Sherry as her eyes meet mine. Her stethoscope comes off Gus’s chest and the look she offers is deep and meaningful. He’s gone. Dr. Sherry has sparkling blue eyes and they look sad as she drops the syringe into her pocket.

At a funeral there is a ceremony and people stand up and tell stories, sing songs and celebrate. There is comfort in sharing grief. There is peace.

Dr. Sherry gets to her feet as Brent and I pat Gus’s head one last time. He’s gone and the tears soak my face as Dr. Sherry says “group hug”. We gather and hug. “I’m so sorry for your loss” the willow tree whispers in the wind as a butterfly lands on Gus’s nose and rests.

Gus last pic

Dr. Sherry gets in her car after washing her boots and drives away, leaving Brent and I with after care. I stare at Gus’s body on his lovely bed under the willow tree and think, he was loved. I cry hard for a long time.

At the cemetery the hole in the ground is ready to receive the deceased. There is red carpet leading the closest friends and family to the grave site. Family gathers around as the body is lowered into the ground.

I sit on the freshly dug earth as Brent pushes the dirt over Gus’s body and my tears soak the ground. There are no family and friends to bid good bye to Gus. There are no flowers covering a casket. There is just Brent and I laying Gus to rest.


After a person is laid to rest there is a gathering where everyone tells stories about the deceased. A celebration of life.

Alone, I sit in the house and think about my handsome boy. I send a few texts to close family and friends letting them know that Gus has died and is at peace. The messages are supportive and loving.

We will miss Gus desperately. He was a part of our daily life. We loved him and he survived  four and a half years longer than anyone expected. He was our light, delight and love. He was a wonderful dog.

Gus standing

In early June of 2016, we laid our boy Gus to rest. He’s at peace running without pain or responsibility. He’s surrounded by love. He has a great following with BCFS and we send this message to all those who loved Gus:

Please help save a dog in Gus’s name… it’s what he would have wanted. Please share your good deed, thought, prayer on the comments below. We get great comfort knowing how many lives Gus has touched. 


As for me? Jackson is giving me cuddles and Super Taz  is doling out kisses. My support team is in place and I feel lucky to have had a special dog like Gus in my life.


Cheers my boy resting under the willow tree. I will always love you.



31 thoughts on “Goodbye, from under the Willow Tree”

  1. I’m so sorry for your loss. I fell in love with Gus through pictures you posted on Facebook. His beautiful soul has travelled on and will meet up with you by the Rainbow bridge.

  2. I never had the pleasure/honour of meeting Gus, but I got to know him from a distance. Although his beautiful heart is at rest, his spirit lives on in the lives of all who knew him. Godspeed beautiful boy, you did your ‘humans’ and 4-legged friends well. Gentle hugs Amy & all who loved, and will love forever, this rescued dog.

  3. So sad. Beautifully written. Very clear he was a special boy. Anyone who has euthanized a beloved pet knows your heartache. The tears are shared in loving support for you amongst all of us pet loving people. May you find peace in the knowledge of Gus’s relief of any pain and suffering. Xo

  4. Gus was a very lucky dog to have you two in his life. It is because of you that Gus got to live the rest of his dog days happily. RIP Gus and hugs to you two, Amy and Brent. <3

  5. In that place he is now, he will receive all the love you gave him, and ours too….Listen for him …he’ll be sending his….Take care of your hearts…..Thank you for being Gus’s wonderful family.

  6. How beautiful his last years were with you. Take comfort in knowing that you gave him that wonderful gift. RIP handsome Gus.

  7. So sorry to hear this Amy! I know how much Gus was loved and will be greatly missed at BCFS. Run free sweet boy!

  8. The loss of a fur baby is so hard. I do feel your pain.
    And the decision to euthanize is never easy.
    Gus waits for you now at Rainbow Bridge.

  9. So sorry Amy and Brent. It is so good Gus that you made it to the new home. He will be missed. I think he will guard the new place and quietly hurd and welcome all the new comers. Sleep well you gentle giant.

  10. So eloquently written, even with the fresh pain blurring the keyboard.
    Hugs to all of you, 2 and 4 footed friends.
    Thinking of you and sending love.

  11. I am so sorry for your loss …remember admiring Gustav at one of your open houses…beautiful Hungarian Kuvah….probably spelled that wrong….he was beautiful …admire the work you do.

  12. Sending condolences, hugs and prayers to you all. Gus was a beautiful boy and wonderful body guard to many of his smaller friends. Nay Gus rest in peace.

  13. So sorry for your loss Amy – I shed tears for you and Gus – and also for myself as I know my guy is aging also. In the beginning he was such a difficult dog, and now he’s perfect. I sometimes think the harder you have to work for something, the more worthwhile it is. I have such respect for people who are advocates for those who do not have a voice. Blessed to be a blessing!

  14. Amy so sorry for the loss of Gus. He was a beautiful dog who was lucky to have found his way to you ,Brent and BCFS.

  15. As always Amy, … so beautifully written. You sum up the emotions and heartbreaking feelings , taking our beloved children to the rainbow bridge. Always knowing that they are up there waiting for us, pain free, with all our other babies , running and having fun . Sending huge hugs and much love

  16. Dear Amy and Brent,
    My heart is aching and there are tears coursing down my cheeks, sharing the loss of your wonderful boy. I always loved him, even if from afar and the peace, security and love you gave him in his last few years, which he returned tenfold to you.
    Gus was a trooper and forever faithful.
    Semper fi Gus, rest in peace, under the beautiful willow tree.
    Peace to you both,
    Pam H

  17. The most beautiful tribute I have read for a special friend. My face is covered with tears. In my throat is a huge lump. All my love and sincerest sympathy on the loss of your beautiful, Gus. Hugs from Seattle, WA.

  18. This is so beautifully written, Amy…I said goodbye to my cocker spaniel, Madeline, yesterday, too. The pain of her absence is sinking in, but letting her go, to breathe freely, was peaceful and filled with love. Ginny Day

  19. Dear Amy and Brent,
    It was clear from the first moment that I saw Gus, just how special that he was… I was instinctively drawn to him that day of the animal reiki course.
    Interesting to me that Gus held on until you made the move to the new farm…where there will be a new continuum to the rescue work of BCFS. Somehow, I think Gus’ spirit will welcome and watch over all that passes in and out of your welcoming gates there…RIP Gus! You touched so many lives, human and furry alike!

  20. This is so beautiful and is almost a photocopy of when our beautiful dog Teddy breathed his last. I sit here with tears running down my face. Tears of love, joy and sadness. goodbye Gus, goodbye Teddy Zeus Molly Brandy Ghost and Borris. You will all be playing happerly together in the knowledge of how much we loved you all and how much joy you brought into our lives. Peace to you dear Gus amd your family under the Willow Tree.

  21. So sorry for the loss of Gus ! Your story was so well written, and I had difficulty reading with the tears in my eyes.

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